Tag: frances mcdormand

Hail, Caesar!

by on Feb.19, 2017, under Movie Reviews

hail caesarHail, Caesar! is the latest offering from the Coen Brothers who brought us classics like No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo and The Big Lebowski. The film is set in the 50s during the golden age of Hollywood and centers around a “fixer” (which is kind of another name for producer these days) who is trying to keep a studio together while dealing with erratic talent, a kidnapping, and a plot by some disgruntled writers.

The film itself is fun enough but doesn’t quite capture the magic of some of their other releases. In other words, for a Coen film, it’s kinda average which makes it a decent regular film by conventional standards but not a home run. The story itself is ok, with some interesting nods to the paranoia of the entertainment industry at that time as well as to the eccentric behavior that talent is often associated with. However, the dialog and action are not super compelling or exciting but rather run-of-the-mill. There are the occasional unexpected elements here and there but nothing as captivating or surreal as The Big Lebowski. And quite frankly, the ending is sudden and boring.

The actors are fun to watch, George Clooney shows some range, especially when he’s getting pushed around by Josh Brolin. A couple other pleasant surprises include Tilda Swinton playing the smarmy twin writers modeled after Dear Abby / Ann Landers and Channing Tatum showing off his song and dance skills. The film has a helluva lineup featuring Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, and Alden Ehrenreich.

If you’re a Coen fan, you should probably give this a whirl and see what you think. If you’re not familiar with their work, don’t start with this one, there are better offerings from the Coens.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Burn After Reading

by on Jan.31, 2016, under Movie Reviews

burn after readingAnother installment in the Coen Brothers collection of films, Burn After Reading turns out to be their version of a spy film (of sorts, it is a Coen Bros. film after all). And since it’s a film by the brothers Coen, it’s got the rich, great characters you’ve come to present when they put their brains together and come up with another masterful piece to their body of work.

I will add that the film isn’t as dark and sinister as No Country for Old Men, nor is it quite as quirky as The Big Lebowski, Burn After Reading falls somewhere between the 2 in terms of it’s degree of both quirky and dark. Starting with the demotion of ex-CIA agent Osborne Cox (played by John Malkovich) while exposing the affair his wife is having and eventually intertwining with a blackmail scheme from a couple of bumbling gym-employees, the film is expertly woven together through the antics of some really rich, intriguing characters.

One of the things I love about Coen films is those unexpected out-of-nowhere moments. I won’t reveal any of them in this film because that’s part of the fun of the ride. But (SPOILER ALERT), a prime example from No Country for Old Men is when Woody Harrelson’s character gets shot by Javier Bardem. There are numerous moments like that in here, one surprisingly blunt and grisly. The style of the directors also doesn’t allow overuse of those sucker-punch moments but allows some building to take place beforehand so you don’t see them coming, and considering their infrequency you tend to appreciate them all the more.

The lineup is a laundry list of amazing talent who all just crush their roles. You can tell actors like working with these guys as the talent always brings it’s A game to their films. The impressive lineup includes: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, J.K. Simmons and Elizabeth Marvel.

If you’re a fan of the quirky, compelling work of the Coens, be sure to give Burn After Reading a viewing.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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This Must Be The Place

by on Oct.27, 2013, under Movie Reviews

A wealthy pop star, Cheyenne (played by Sean Penn) returns to the states after retiring in Europe. His purpose is to visit his estranged father after a 30 year separation to reconcile their relationship. He arrives home only to find he is too late and that his father has passed away. Part of the twist here is that his father was a holocaust survivor that suffered humiliation at the hands of a former SS officer. Upon discovering these circumstances and finding out that the officer is still alive, Penn’s character embarks on a mission to avenge his father.

This might sound like a thriller of sorts but it’s really not. It’s more of a character piece driven by Penn and the various people he interacts with along his journey. I found nearly all the characters in this movie pretty interesting, especially Penn’s Cheyenne who made me think of what Boy George would be like if he was goth, heterosexual and had big 80’s hair.

The story is fairly well written although I found the ending a little disappointing. The resolution with the SS officer was good but what happens afterward fell a little flat for me. Most of the dialog is engaging but some of the elements intertwine in a way that doesn’t always make a lot of sense, it seemed like the writer was being weird at times for the sake of being weird but without substance behind it.

The actors are all quite good, especially Penn as he does the characterization of the quirky lead in a really effective way. There were times you wanted to punch him out while at other times you wished you could hang out with him. The lineup includes Judd Hirsch, David Byrne (of Talking Head fame), and Frances McDormand. There’s an especially powerful scene between Penn and David Byrne that I found left a mark in my memory; Penn’s a powerhouse.

It didn’t blow my socks off but it’s an interesting, artsy film, worth a look see if for no other reason than to enjoy some great actors.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon

by on Jul.29, 2011, under Movie Reviews

Michael Bay and everyone

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